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Lesson 156 of 225
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Traits of The Self Life Defined

Traits of the Self-Life Defined

Romans 6

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

In a talk he gave many years ago that he called, “The Life that Wins,” Charles Trumbull talked about the change that came into his life after he had been living, as he calls it, the switchback life — in and out of victory for years. In one of the last paragraphs, he says, “The change wrought…Wherein was the change? It is hard to put it into words and yet it is oh, so new, and real, and wonderful, and miracle working in both my own life and the lives of others. To begin with, I realized for the first time that the many references throughout the New Testament to Christ in you, and you in Christ, Christ our life, and abiding in Christ are literal, actual, blessed facts, and not figures of speech.”

I think there has to be a work of the Holy Spirit to break through the veil that so often is over our eyes about that, because we think, “Yes, yes, I am in Christ. Yes, Christ is in me.” Yet almost the very words and almost the very thoughts that we have are part of the veil that seems to shield us from the reality of that, and we subtly turn it into a metaphor.

“Yes, yes, I am, as it were, in Christ. Yes, yes, Christ. I mean, he’s really at the right hand of God. But he’s kind of in me also.” Probably it’s Satan, the prince of this world, influencing us, but it’s so easy to allow the unbelieving attitude of the whole of the rest of mankind to influence us so that we somehow evade it. We step aside it a little. “Yes, yes, I know Christ is in me – I have to hold onto that idea.”

No. You have to live in the only reality that you can live. Because it’s a mistake to say, “Well, yes, yes, yes. I have to live in the reality of it instead of the unreality of this.” No! Why we call that unreality is it doesn’t exist. There is no place where Christ is not.

There is no hiding place for us. That’s why Jesus and the prophets talked about the world being in the thrall of deception and a lie. It’s not that the world is in some alternative reality – it is in total unreality. There is only one reality, us in Christ. That’s where we are.

That’s where we’re breathing. That’s why our heart is beating and why our blood is running through our veins. It is because we are in Christ at this moment. But we keep on kind of stepping aside and pretending that we’re in some other place here. Then we’re trying to think ourselves into this reality. No, there is only one reality and that’s what he’s saying.

Turnbull goes on: “How the 15th Chapter of John thrilled with new life, as I read it now! (Abide in me as the vine and the branches.) And Ephesians 3:14-21, and Galatians 2:20, and Philippians 1:21.”

“What I mean is this: I had always known that Christ was my Savior; but I had looked upon him as an external Savior, one who did a saving work for me from outside, as it were; one who was ready to come close alongside and stay by me, helping me in all I needed, giving me power, and strength, and salvation.”

“But now I knew something better than that. At last I realized that Jesus Christ was actually and

literally within me; and even more than that, that he had constituted himself my very life.”

I don’t know if you can catch that: “He had constituted himself my very life.” That the old life that was crucified before the foundation of the world, which I of course had been expressing through some of the years of my life here on earth — that old life — that was destroyed utterly.

Christ constituted himself my life. That is, he rose up from the dead even before the world was made, and constituted himself my life. And of course, we are all known, I Ernest O’Neill, you Marty Overby, you Joe, you Trish, you’re all known by human beings as if that is your life. That isn’t. That is Christ’s constituted life that goes under your name. He constituted himself my life.

Turnbull continues: “Taking me into union with himself — my body, mind, spirit — while I still had my own identity and free will and full moral responsibility.”

“Was not this better than having him as a helper, or even than having him as an external Savior, to have him, Jesus Christ, the Son of God as my own very life?”

“It meant that I never needed again to ask him to help me as though he was one and I another, but rather simply to do his work, his will, in me, and with me, and through me. My body was his, my mind his, my will his, my spirit his; and not merely his, but literally part of his; what he asked me to recognize was: ‘I have been crucified with Christ and it was no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me.’”

“Jesus Christ had constituted himself my life — not as a figure of speech, remember, but as a literal, actual fact, as literal as the fact that a certain tree has been made into this desk on which my hand rests. For ‘your bodies are members of Christ’ and ‘ye are the body of Christ.’”

Of course what I saw more and more clearly is that Christ here in me experiences great strain when I do not live in him, or allow him to be himself in me, or when I do not allow him to rest in his Father the way it is his nature to do.

When I do not allow him to trust and rejoice in his Father every second in the way it is his nature to do, he experiences strain and pain within me. In that sense he bears my sin and bears my apartness from him. I saw his peace is ours every moment you and I allow Christ to dwell in his peace. Or, we cause him strain. And of course, we are aware of the strain ourselves. But I saw that Christ is in constant peace with his Father. Constant rest and constant joy with his Father. And that’s his whole attitude and nature in us.

But somehow we take to ourselves Sheila Miller, or we take to ourselves Greg Leitschuh {people present at Rev. O’Neill’s talk} — this burdensome creature that was destroyed before the foundation of the world. But we somehow take this heavy creature upon us and that’s what we’re most aware of. We’re bearing that heavy creature through every one of its trials and all its difficulties.

Of course, that whole concept is a lie, and a deception, and something that has been done away with. The actual reality is that Christ is here not in the robes of the man of Galilee, but in the jeans or the shirt of Marty Overby in this person. He is here in each of us and he is rejoicing in his Father and looking out at the life he has planned to live in us and knowing that it is all under his control. And that’s our life. That’s the reality of our life.

It is a glorious life. It’s a dream life. It’s the kind of thing that you would dream of. Living without the burden of living. Living without having to face the thing yourself, but just really letting him do it. And I thought, “Well, we’re aware at times. You’re either aware you live that or you’re aware you don’t live it.” That’s the fact of it.

I thought, “Well, in what way can we bring that home to us?” Of course, I’ve always had great satisfaction in a particular document. In a way, though, it’s a terror. It’s a real workout. I always had big confidence in this little tract that they put out years ago, “Traits of the Self-Life” — because I think often God’s Spirit would use it with me to show where I was not living in the midst of Christ, in the wonder of the deliverance that he had wrought through this crucifixion. So it’s always been good for me because it convicted me of any tinge of that independent life that either had crept back in or had never been exposed.

I just thought it might be good to look at some of the questions that it puts, or some of the suggestions it makes, in the light of what we’ve just been talking about. Maybe it’ll highlight it for you, or make it absolutely plain for you. He starts out, “The following are some of the features and manifestations of the self-life. The Holy Spirit alone can interpret and apply this to your individual case. As you read examine yourself in the very presence of God.”

Of course, he’s saying the self-life is the life in the flesh. It’s the life of a carnal Christian. It’s the life of one who is not allowing Christ to have his place, not allowing Christ to live his life in my place.

Then he says, “Are you ever conscious of a secret spirit of pride? An exalted feeling in view of your success or position because of your good training or appearance? Because of your natural gifts and abilities? An important independent spirit?” You can see you have to answer that personally. But you can see that of course it’s utterly out of place — a secret spirit of pride in my ability because this is Christ. This is Christ.

The fingers that I use to play the guitar or the piano, or to use my pencil or the computer, are Christ’s fingers. And here am I with a secret spirit of pride that I’m good at this or I’m good at that. Christ doesn’t make us puppets, but it’s like us as puppets who are moved by the great master. Then with our little puppet hands we sweep him back and say, “Get out. He has nothing to do with it.”

You can see that it’s utterly unreal. Of course, the heart of it is that in some way we still are thinking of ourselves as the source of our gifts. We’re still thinking of ourselves as having great ability in this, or great ability in that. But he not only gave us the ability, but it’s him that keeps our minds together so that we continue to be good at this or good at that. So it’s all his.

So it all is due to him. You can see it’s just an utter lie and unreality if you have a secret spirit of pride and exalted feeling in view of your success or position because of your good training or appearance, or because of your natural gifts and abilities. Really it’s just a direct question, “Look, do you owe everything to Christ? Is everything you have his? Is it all due to him, and is it all exercised this moment because of his power and his strength? In fact, is it him? Is it him or is it you?”

That’s it. I think that’s the question you have to decide: is this Christ’s life and are the things that you’re doing due to him, or are they due to you? Do you actually have an existence separate

from him? Have you some virtue or some existence separate from Christ?

The tract says, “Are you ever conscious of a love of human praise; a secret fondness to be noticed; a love of supremacy, a drawing attention to self in conversation; a swelling out of self when you have had a free time in speaking or praying?”

Obviously it’s all connected up with getting other people’s praise and approval — because you either feel you are important, or you feel you want them to think you’re important, or you want to be God. It’s self-deifying. It’s treasuring the praise that comes from man rather than the praise that comes from God.

I suppose it’s really just atheism. It’s actually an unbelief that, “God alone is my Father, and God alone is the one whom I’ve to please.” It’s a feeling that, “Well, I can get some approval, or some existence, or some respect from all these other little human beings.” And so you have a love of human praise.

I suppose it’s: is Christ enough for us, or is he not? But I sometimes think that it’s plainer than that: if you have Christ, what more could you have? If Christ is in you, if Christ is you — it’s like being the son of the king and wanting praise from the newspaper seller at the corner of the street. What would that praise mean for you? It doesn’t matter to you. The king praises you. What more praise do you need?

So it seems it’s almost back to that issue of belief in Christ. Is Christ actually in you? Are you actually part of Christ?

If you’re part of Christ what does it matter who praises you or doesn’t praise you? If you are actually part of him what can the lesser do for the greater? What does it matter getting a penny if you have three pounds in your pocket? So it seems to come back in a sense that the carnal life is actually based on unbelief. It’s a failure to complete faith – to believe what you know and what you’ve been told.

The tract goes on, “Are you ever conscious of the stirrings of anger or impatience, which worst of all you call nervousness or holy indignation; a touchy, sensitive spirit; a disposition to resent and retaliate when disapproved of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp heated flings at another?”

Of course, the anger and impatience in a way are about the same thing. The anger comes when you can’t control something, when something isn’t going the way you want it to go, and you feel you ought to control it. Impatience is the same – it’s not going fast enough, or that person isn’t doing it the way you want them to do it. You, of course, know the perfect way that it’s to be done.

So, it’s you again, brushing Christ back and saying, “No. I know the way this is to be done. No, you have not worked all things according to the counsel of your will. No, you have not overcome the world. This thing is getting out of control. You can see it’s getting out of control. If I don’t control it I’m lost. No, this person, if they keep on doing this — they’re going to destroy the whole thing. No, I know you crucified the world. I know you overcame the world. I know you work all things according to the counsel of your will– but not here. Not here.”

So it seems to get back again to unbelief that Christ has overcome the world. Is he within you

looking out at a world where there is absolute peace? Do you have absolute peace in him — because he looks out on all the things that are wrong, all the things that are going wrong, all the things that seem to be threatening, and he knows fine well, “I have dealt with every one of those. There is not one of those things that were not crucified in me, that were not destroyed with the fallen world, that was destroyed in me from before the foundation of the world. I come to things that are already done. I come to a leper whose leprosy I already bore on Calvary. So that leprosy is not a threat, or a difficulty, or a problem, or a cause for anxiety or worry for me. That is something that is already settled.”

As we let Christ fully live in us, that fills our hearts and our heads so that we’re free from these things that are mentioned here. “Are you ever conscious of self will; a stubborn unteachable spirit; an arguing talkative spirit; harsh, sarcastic expressions; an unyielding, headstrong disposition; a driving commanding spirit; a disposition to criticize and pick flaws when set aside and unnoticed; a peevish, fretful spirit; a disposition that loves to be coaxed and humored?”

Do you think like this? “I must rule. I must control. I must defend myself. I must stop these people saying and doing the things they’re saying and doing.”

Christ was in the midst of the storm sleeping because he had already dealt with the storm. He knew that it was already calmed. When he would say the words, “Peace be still,” it would actually calm itself there in this little planet. Christ is the same in every situation.

So then in the conversation where someone is kind critical, or is sarcastic, or is unfair to us, Christ does not even bother to go out and in some way try to corral them, or control them, or pay them back. Christ foresaw what its effect would be, and has already neutralized it as far as he and you is concerned. So the thing is already dealt with.

Now if you don’t grasp that fact that in you Christ is facing a world that he has already brought under his Father’s control, I can see that then you’re thinking – you’re ideas are fighting his. You’re thinking, “Well, yes, I’m willing for Christ to live in me and he has given me everything I have. He is my very life. But then I’m facing these imperfect events that are going on around me, these unpleasant circumstances, and these disadvantages that are out to destroy Christ’s life in me. So I better jump out, Lord, and deal with these, and then come back into you.” Christ says, “No, I have already dealt with those things.”

So whether it’s the future — the near future or the distant future — or whether it’s our present circumstances, it’s vital that we do not slip out of Christ into anxiety, or into this kind of stubborn self-willed response. It’s vital that we abide in Christ, and that Christ exercises the peace over events that he is able to exercise simply because he has control of the events.

The tract continues, “Are you ever conscious of carnal fear; a man-fearing spirit; a shrinking from reproach and duty; reasoning around your cross; a shrinking from doing your whole duty by those of wealth or position; a fearfulness that someone will offend and drive some prominent person away; a compromising spirit?”

It’s this whole attitude — carnal fear, over-respect for man and for his power and ability over you, feeling that this person has control of your life, or that this person can prevent you doing what God wants you to do. The truth is, Christ has already overruled all that. The heart of every king is in the hand of the Lord. Every authority that is over you, including a creature like myself

— everything is under the control of Christ.

There is no one in charge of our life but Christ. There is no one that can harm our life or can push it out of God’s plan. There is no one but Christ, and so the king of the universe need fear no man. He need have no man-fearing spirit. He need have no need to please this one, or that one, to bring about this or bring about that. Christ himself is the king of the universe, the master of all, and he is in us. When we let him be himself, then that is the attitude and the peace that we share.

We share that peace. That’s what I wanted you to see — that the deliverance from these things is not by concentrating on them and trying to say, “Oh, I must overcome my man-fear.” The way is rejoicing in Christ and in the fact that he is in you, and that you’re in him, and that he controls all these things outside that would normally cause a tiny little timid creature like yourself to be fearful. To see that Christ himself has all these things under control.

He then says, “Are you ever conscious of a jealous disposition, a secret spirit of envy shut up in your heart; an unpleasant sensation in view of the great prosperity and success of another; a disposition to speak of the faults and the failings, rather than the gifts and virtues, of those more talented and appreciated than yourself?”

Of course, Christ is in you to live a unique life that he has not planned to live in anybody else, and will not live in anybody else. That’s the meaning of your existence and that’s your whole claim to fame. The only fame that any of us can ever have is in our Father’s eyes, and the great fame that you have is that Christ, the Son of God has a life to live in you that he will not live in anybody else. You are unique, and of course, all these things come from unbelief in that.

We have a jealous disposition because we wish we were as good as this person. How pathetic. We have a unique life within us that is being lived by the Christ of God. Then we’re looking at this little one who can play cricket better than us, or football, or baseball, or can sing better, or can speak better, or has this ability, or that ability. We pick this little thing out and we’re jealous of them.

It’s again an independent desire to establish our value in our own eyes and in other’s eyes. So we set up our little standards. Here is Christ himself living a unique life in us that he’ll live in nobody else, and we are setting up our little list of, “This is what the world approves of. This is what the world doesn’t approve of. This is what this person does better than me.”

It’s rank unbelief, but it’s probably deception as well. Of course, all these things go as you fall in love with Christ and as you are filled with the fact that he is in you.

The tract continues, “A disposition to speak of the faults and failings, rather than the gifts and virtues, of those who are more talented and appreciated than you.” It’s the whole business of “tear the other person down to make yourself seem quite clever.” Of course, it’s needless.

It’s needless when you are settled and convinced, “Christ, this is your life. Here we are going it together, and what you do is what’s important whether this person thinks, or approves of it, or praises it, or thinks it is good or not, or whether this person appears to be better than me or not. Christ, it’s what you were willing to have on Calvary when even the beggars spat at you and cursed you as you went down the Via Dolorosa. Lord, I’d rather be with you as you do go that way and have

them curse me and look down on me, than be in a king’s palace and have everybody bowing down to me.” So it’s again the reality of Christ himself in us.

“Are you ever conscious of a dishonest deceitful disposition; he evading and covering of the truth; the covering up of your real faults; leaving a better impression of yourself than is strictly true; false humility; exaggeration; straining the truth?” All the things we do to make ourselves seem a little better or to avoid making ourselves seem as bad as we are, or to avoid seeming as stupid as we think we may appear.

Of course, usually none of those things are true at all. But we exaggerate them and we think, “Oh, we don’t want them to see our bad side. Oh, they probably think we’re far better at this.” So we keep on straining a little, striving a little, straining the truth a little, and exaggerating a little.

It all of course brings strain — on you? No — upon the dear Christ of God. Upon the dear Savior himself who feels all those things — because he is your very heart. He feels those things and he feels a strain – a pain a thousand times more than you do. You may think to yourself, “Well, I almost get headaches trying to remember all the clever little moves I made, or the clever little evasions, or the way I present things to this person or that person. My head almost gets sore.” Nothing compares with the pain in Christ’s head. And of course, the need for it is not there at all.

It doesn’t matter what they think of you. You’re nothing, you’re nothing, you’re nothing. You can do nothing outside Christ. You have no ability outside Christ. So the worst that they think of you is far better than the reality. The reality is that you are nothing, and that Christ is everything.

You have nothing but what is him. Of course, then there comes a great peace. It doesn’t matter what people think of you. It doesn’t matter what they say about you. You’re no longer trying to make things appear better. You’re at last able to just be honest, just be truthful, just to tell it like it is, and just to say what is real. Of course, that brings great peace.

“Are you ever conscious of unbelief; a spirit of discouragement in times of pressure and opposition; lack of quietness and confidence in God; lack of faith and trust in God; a disposition to worry and complain in the midst of pain, poverty, or at the dispensations of Divine Providence; an overanxious feeling whether everything will come out all right?”

Of course, all that comes from feeling your future is in your hands and you have to ensure that it goes right. From feeling that you have to make circumstances go the way you think they need to go for you to achieve either your purposes or the purposes of God. The truth is it’s not so. Christ himself is within us. He has it all organized and all planned. Especially the things that seem to be worst in the eyes of the world are usually God’s riches blessings to us.

They’re usually God’s richest blessings — the things that seem worst in the world’s eyes. The crucifixion seemed the worst thing. It was the key to everything. It’s so with most of the things that happened in our lives. The things that we think are bad: the poverty, the ill health, the difficulties, the failures — are usually the best. They’re God’s dearest gifts, because Christ himself at that moment is triumphing over the failures of the world — because those things are only outward failures.

“Are you ever conscious of formality and deadness; lack of concern for lost souls; dryness and indifference; lack of power with God? Selfishness; love of ease; love of money?” Well, Christ has no formality and deadness in him. When you fall into Christ and are totally submerged in him, his life rises within you and brings about life. Let us pray.

Blessed Lord Jesus, we know we have to do nothing here. You have done everything. You only look at us now and say, “My son, my daughter, I am here in you and you are completely enclosed by me. I have you in the center of my heart. I have all your life in my hands. Now enjoy me and rejoice with me, and let my attitude to all these things, and to the world itself, and especially to my dear Father in heaven — let my attitude be yours. Let my attitude fill your heart and your mind, every moment. Allow your thoughts to rise with mine as I rejoice in my Father and enjoy the life that he has given me in you. Oh Lord, we would. Amen.